By Yemurai Kanhukamwe & Musawenkosi Sibanda
October is Downs Syndrome awareness month which seeks to address the challenges and capabilities of people with downs syndrome and how they must have full participation in the decision making process on issues relating to or affecting their lives.
Downs Syndrome is a genetic disorder associated with physical growth delays, characteristic facial features and mild to moderate developmental and intellectual disability. It is caused by the presence of full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. Treatments can help manage the condition, which has no known cure.
According to the Downs Syndrome Association of Zimbabwe (DSAZ) over 40,000 people have the condition in the country.
Mrs Sibongile Mbayiwa , the Co-Ordinator of ZDSA in Bulawayo , said awareness campaigns have commenced with several activities lined up to create awareness on how members of the public can accept and look after people with downs syndrome .
“We are intending to visit Mpilo rehabilitation centre and the maternity ward to raise awareness to nurses and parents who may find themselves with children who have downs syndrome on how to accept the child and explain what exactly downs syndrome is . We will also visit schools and we have already designated four schools namely St Columbus High school , Pumula High School , Mzilikazi High school and Mckeurtan Primary School”.
Meanwhile parents with children affected by the genetic disorder say they appreciate the month of October to celebrate all those with downs syndrome .
One parent Natalie Gona said this shows that the children with the disability are being recognized despite the challenges they face.
“I am happy as a parent because i shows that our disabled children are recognized and appreciated despite the challenges that we face in raising our children . It is also very important to us as parents to know that other people are being educated to accept our children as they are and to know the different sciences surrounding the condition.”
Denzel Dube another parent said he was happy that there was an organization in the city that is supporting the parents with disabilities associated with chromosome 21 which shows that they care.
“We are happy that we have the ZDSA which is helping us and supporting us. This month also proves that the children are not isolated and that they still have a future” .
ZDSA however appealed for donations to fund its peanut butter making project with those willing to donate to deposit to ZDSA ,FC Account, STANBIC BANK, J.MQABUKO St. Branch ACC. No. 914-000-1450947. Or donate at its office located on Cnr 3rd Avenue and Basch street .